The holiday season is sneaking up on us again along with endless to-do-lists and frenzied shopping.
How to keep your sanity, good mood and stay ahead of the game?
The secret is taking short cuts and doing tasks ahead of time.
One may have court dates, mediation or collaborative sessions and feel too drained to join in the festivities. Pick the holiday celebrations that bring you the most joy and do not feel obligated to attend every one.
- If you are usually the one hosting Christmas dinner or the family gathering, then it is time to have a frank discussion. Let others know in advance that you are no longer up to doing this with your divorce and offer some suggestions. The holiday dinner could rotate every year to a different family member’s house. Having it potluck makes it easier on the hosts.
One divorced mum decided that family holiday meals would be at a nice restaurant so no one was chained to the kitchen or on clean up duty.
- Bundle tasks together to free up some time for relaxation. I write my Christmas cards and letters while enjoying a holiday movie on the telly with my sons. Have a wine party with pals while you each wrap some of your Christmas presents. You get a chore done while partying. Spend time with a godchild while you bake Christmas cookies.
- Cheating is okay. Not every dish has to be made from scratch. Good Housekeeping magazine for example, has a meal or single product from a variety of stores which is blind tested and then judged. These tasters rate them on most like homemade or best flavours. Take the winner, dump the packaging, place it on your nice china, and wait for the compliments. I buy pre-cooked meat for some holiday meals and heat it up with my homemade herb marinade. My sons enjoy it.
Do what you can ahead of time so you are having fun on the actual holiday. I make mashed potatoes the night before and sometimes the veggies too. Desserts can be from a decadent bakery or posh shop. I enlist a teenage son to bake cookies and he gives some of them to his friends. I make pizzelle cookies which have a long shelf life that lasts through the holiday season. It is helpful to get prep work and baking done while the kids are in bed so that you can look at lights, go to a pantomime or other fun activities.
- Divorce is a stressful time and tempers may flare. A little generosity goes a long way. If you can be flexible with your irritating soon-to-be-ex and allow him extra time with the children when his family comes into town, then he may pass the courtesy on to you. Buying your ex-wife a little gift from the kids may soothe any hurt feelings and make co-parenting a bit smoother. Treating others as you want to be treated benefits you as well as them.
- Start new holiday traditions. Ask your children what rituals are important to them and drop the less favourite ones. Come up with some different ones when starting a new life in the post-divorce period. I only have cousins across the country so holidays are just my two sons and me. We have lattes with a snack at a coffee shop we like near the cinema. After enjoying a movie, we have a festive meal at home on my Christmas Spode china. Decide what traditions work out best for you in this new transition.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce